Artur F. AKRILL (english version)

NAME: Arthur F Akrill RANK: A. B. NUMBER: P/JX 3080304
DATE BORN: 26.7.23
SERVICE/REGIMENT/SHIP: H.M.S PENOLOPE

 

On the morning of 23rd January 1944 the cruiser Penelope was one of the escort ships that covered the landings   at Anzio, which consisted of an armada of over 200 landing craft and support ships.   I don’t recall a lot of resistance at that time, but records show and as we were to find out, more resistance was to be encountered. Our main function at that time was to assist the land forces with our 6th armament. We were in direct communication with the F.O.O. (Forward Observation Officer ) who was positioned in no – mans land and was there fire able to pinpoint accurately on gun fire on to enemy movements of tanks, troops convoys etc moving up to the front lines.

This support continued into February during the daylight hours, whilst giving this support our 4’’ guns, tom guns, Oerlikons etc were kept busy on some days repelling enemy aircrafts. As darkness fell   we would shelter in one of the many lays nearby , and as dawn came we would return to the beachhead to continue with our shelling.

It was whilst we were on our way to the beachhead at dawn on the 18th February 1944 that   German U Boat   ( U410 ) attached with torpedoes, and 3 of them found there target, causing our ship to sink very quickly, with the loss of 417 of our crew. After being in the sea for almost 5 hours I was finally picked up by a L.C.T on its way back from the beachhead, after unloading   men and tanks. My station on board the Penelope for defence and action was in the leader direction situated high above the bridge, our main function was to locate and track targets for the Stanboard 4th guns, and it was from this vantage point that I remember quite vividly by Mt Vesuvius   was at the height of its eruption, coupled with the fierce battle taking place on land, it was like a huge firework display.

I spent two years on the Penelope and of the many actions we were involved in, I will always remember the Anzio landings and the 417 gallant men that never came home.

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